Ontario's five-point plan to ease process for foreign-trained doctors

Ontario legislation to make health care a matter of 'public interest' in effort to make it easier for foreign-trained doctors to practice
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 06/27/2008

Ontario is hoping to make it easier for internationally trained health-care professionals to practice in the province.

The government introduced legislation — called Increasing Access to Qualified Health Professionals for Ontarians Act — that, if passed, will change the mandate of all regulatory colleges to acknowledge that access to health care is a matter of public interest. Ontario has 23 regulated health professions.

The province said the legislation is part of a bigger plan to remove barriers for internationally trained doctors. It will also be working closely with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on regulation changes that would ease the transition to practice for foreign-trained doctors.

The plan, based on the

Report on Removing Barriers for International Medical Doctors

by MPP Laurel Broten, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, details five major recommendations on how to further increase the number of international medical doctors in Ontario.

This legislation is part of the government’s strategy to meet the needs of unattached patients, reduce wait times and provide older Ontarians with care closer to home, the province said.

Ontario is relying more and more on foreign-trained doctors.

According to figures from the province, almost one-quarter of the doctors in the province — about 5,000 — are internationally trained. About 630 international medical graduates (IMGs) are currently in residency training in Ontario and, for the fourth straight year in 2007, more certificates were issued to IMGs than to Ontario graduates by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The five major recommendations

Below are the five recommendations from the province’s plan for IMGs.

•Streamline the registration process for doctors already practicing elsewhere in Canada, the United States or other countries with a comparable health and medical education system.

•Provide internationally trained doctors with transitional licensing that recognizes that many doctors can come to Ontario and begin practice with some limited supervision or a restricted licence for doctors whose practice is limited to their highly specialized training, such as a neonatalogist.

•Provide a more timely and efficient assessment process for internationally trained doctors and enhance training and orientation programs. This may require increasing the number of entry- and advanced-level training positions and practice-ready assessment positions and investing in the medical education system and orientation programs to expand capacity.

•Provide expanded access to individualized support for doctors trained in other systems for cultural and language education, mentorship and hands-on training.

•In cases where an IMG is not likely to achieve success as a doctor, provide personal assistance to transition the professional to alternate roles in Ontario’s health-care system.

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